Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

February 15, 2014

RiverHawks beat Washburn to snap 6-game losing skid

Men hold off Washburn late; NSU women lose again in overtime

bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

The losing streak is over.

Northeastern State's six-game losing skid, which started on Jan. 18, ended Saturday afternoon with a 68-59 victory over Washburn in front of 872 at the NSU Event Center.

"It's good to win," NSU coach Larry Gipson said. "I thought we played with a more unified effort tonight. We were excellent on the defensive end of the floor."

Marcus Sheppard led NSU (12-10, 7-8 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) with 16 points, and Dalen Qualls came off the bench to infuse 14 points into the RiverHawks' winning effort.

And it was Qualls' 3-pointer with 11:07 left that gave the RiverHawks the lead for good.

"Dalen was good. He came off the bench was a big contribution," Gipson said. "He hit those two 3s in the second half and those were huge for us."

Despite never leading after the 4:33 mark of the first half, Washburn (15-8, 8-8) never went away. The Ichabods were within 3 (59-56) on Leon Flowers' 3-pointer with 3:45 left, but NSU would score nine of the next 12 points to prevail.

"We haven't played very intelligently down the stretch in the last two minutes of games," Gipson said. "We've kicked games away; games that we had an opportunity to win. Give our team credit, that played together as a team."

Also working in NSU's favor against Washburn was shooting. The RiverHawks made 48.8 percent (21-of-43) of their field goals and 88.2 percent (15-of-17) of their free throws. NSU also shot 3-pointers at a 40.7 percent (11-of-27) clip.

Gipson was also elated with his team's tendency to distribute the basketball.

"We scored 21 field goals on 16 assists," Gipson said. "We were sharing the basketball a lot better."

The Ichabods finished 22-of-52 (42.3 percent) from the field.

Alex North led Washburn with 16 points, and Jeff Reid chipped in with 15. Stephon Drane was Washburn's only other scorer in double figures with 12 points.

The loss was Washburn's fourth in their last five games.

At a game below .500 in league play, NSU now trails Washburn and Emporia State by a 1/2 game each in the standings. The RiverHawks — at ninth in the MIAA — are also a full game behind Nebraska Kearney with four games left in the regular season, starting with Wednesday's home finale against Pittsburg State.

"We want to play another game here in the Event Center," Gipson said of trying to finish eighth or higher in the league to pick up a home game during the conference tournament. "It'd give the students and local fans another chance to see us play."

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